Wednesday, October 3, 2018

REVIEW: 'American Horror Story: Apocalypse' - Witches and Warlocks Fight for Control in 'Could It Be... Satan?'

FX's American Horror Story: Apocalypse - Episode 8.04 "Could It Be... Satan?"

In 2018, it has become very difficult to keep up with every television show out there. It's even more difficult to provide adequate coverage on this site about the episodes that air every week. Not every show can get full coverage because of my busy and hectic viewing schedule. As such, some reviews will now be condensed to give only some summary thoughts. But it also affords a space for me to jot down my thoughts on the various episodes. And so, here are my thoughts on this week's episode of FX's American Horror Story: Apocalypse.

"Could It Be... Satan?" was written by Tim Minear and directed by Sheree Folkson

Eight seasons in, it remains so completely fascinating to watch American Horror Story just completely drop one story thread in order to focus on another. This hour basically has nothing to do with the three that preceded it. Sure, it offers some teases about the characters in the bunker who were brought back to life. In fact, Coco and Mallory aren't even their true identities. They are just spells cast over them by Cordelia for some reason that has yet to truly present itself. But instead of focusing on this conflict at the end of the world between the coven of witches and the anti-christ, the show flashes back several years to show more of the origin story for their current dynamic. It's useful information. It informs the audience about what these characters have been up to since the end of their respective seasons and the apocalyptic present. However, it seems a little scattered until the society of warlocks is introduced. Up until that point, it's a little unclear what Michael Langdon's life has been like. Mead represents a new kind of maternal figure in his life who has so much importance. She teaches him to praise the Devil for all of his blessings. And then, the narrative shifts into Langdon training to be a powerful warlock. It's a little unclear what he exactly believes. He understands that there is a power within him that is very dangerous and lethal. He has one influence in Mead telling him one thing and another influence in the warlocks telling him another. Of course, this hour also just has a nice jolt of energy to it because of the performances from Jon Jon Briones, Billy Porter, BD Wong and Cheyenne Jackson. They show up to provide more context for how the world has reacted to the knowledge of magic and witches. In fact, the show attempts some timely things about the corrosive nature of power. Witches have always stood superior to warlocks. There has never been a man who could challenge a Supreme. The notion of one emerging now is completely ridiculous. However, the tease of the tables being turned is enough for the majority of this warlock counsel to champion Langdon as their Alpha. John Henry notices the malicious energy that is flowing through his magic. He sees that it could end in disaster. But he still seems united with the counsel when they make this appeal to Cordelia. Of course, the witches laugh them off because it's unlikely that the rules have changed now. They don't take this threat seriously at first. And then, Langdon proves himself by doing things that even Cordelia couldn't do. It just seems like a sequence that rewards loyal viewers to the show and not those who have drifted away over the years. And so, Gabourey Sidibe returns as Queenie, who is now trapped in the Hotel Cortez from the Hotel cycle of the franchise. As such, that proves that all of the seasons are essentially connected somehow despite how implausible and miraculous that would seem. This story mostly just serves as proof that Cordelia isn't perfect. She still doesn't have the powers necessary to free her fellow witches from the powerful magic that keeps them in their tragic fates - either in the hotel or in Hell for Madison. It just makes the case for Langdon to win over their support even though he is just proving a point. He wants to be treated seriously. It's enough to make Cordelia worried about her future. But knowing the story of the present day, it's clear that all of this ends badly with the witches emerging as the last hope for humanity even though the show isn't going to be telling that story right now.